High school reunions are an interesting and evolving phenomenon. In the early years, the interaction between attendees has a tendency to adapt to the ingrained pecking order that existed at graduation. There is a nominal attempt to impress classmates with status and progress toward fulfilling expectations, either yours or theirs.
As the years pass and the inevitable wear and tear of life increasingly takes it’s toll, interesting changes occur in reunion conduct. Some people substantially exceed expectations and some underachieve or are more easily satisfied with less….of whatever society deems success to be measured by. A few, who broke every rule, became model citizens or at least more compliant. Of course there are those who earlier followed the straight and narrow later decide a walk on the wider wild side more to their liking. Some wallflowers become knockouts and some tiny waisted beauties blow up like balloons. Most guys, significantly less thin than in high school, are very tired at evening’s end from spending hours of shallow breathing trying to hold in their protruding belly.
There eventually comes a time in the reunion continuum when every one has had to work through the hills and valleys of life, and the get-together becomes a time for most who attend to just renew old friendships, share family photos, talk about how great things used to be and rejoice that you have “made it this far.” Regardless of which reunion you last attended, my guess is that you can identify with some of these thoughts.
I just came away from my latest reunion having found it to be a most interesting and uplifting experience. In attendance were; a couple of men who reached high levels in the space program, an accomplished and often published writer, a multifaceted successful entrepreneur, a few college professors and teachers at other levels, numerous professionals in the technology field, many sales professionals and even more who worked in administration and manufacturing. There were also many who dedicated their lives to the most meaningful profession of all, full time motherhood….is there any other kind? We were well distributed along the economic scale from multi-millionaires to those still struggling financially. Some were the picture of health and others suffered with extreme physical difficulties. The most striking thing, however, about this reunion was that an outside observer could not have been able to discern the difference between any of the attendees, regardless of their accomplishments or lack of same, financial status or life condition. I had enlightening conversations with more than a few classmates with whom I had never talked before. I found them to be both interesting and engaging prompting me to wonder why this was my first conversation with them. Hopefully they thought the same. The years had brought forth a welcomed leveling process, making all of us just……mellow and aging friends
Who knows the dynamics that precipitated this change from the reunions of decades ago. The insecurities experienced by every person in high school seemed to have taken a powder. The powerful drivers of tumultuous teen age behavior seemed so distant and insignificant, having been replaced by more meaningful and important measures of personal worth. The result was a Friday evening of great interaction followed by a full Saturday laced with warm sensitive communication. I feel that I have grown from the experience. Hopefully, I contributed to similar growth for those I had the pleasure of being with at this significant event in my life. Who knows…maybe in this case age and maturity are congruent.